Jury awards $8.25M to Black mother, daughters handcuffed outside Castro Valley Starbucks
A federal jury awarded a mother and her two daughters $8.25 million after they were unlawfully searched and handcuffed by Alameda County sheriff's deputies at a Castro Valley Starbucks on their way to taking one of the young women to a college math test in Berkeley.
The women were not physically harmed by law enforcement, but the dollar amount of the award signals that the jurors felt the family's constitutional rights had been stripped from them because of the color of their skin.
"I think that everybody recognizes we all have implicit bias," their attorney, Craig Peters of San Francisco, said in an interview on Monday. "I have it. You have it. We've all got it. These officers are no different. And so, subconsciously, there was something going on that made them unreasonably suspicious of this family. I think that if this same scenario happened and these were white women, it would have played out very differently."
The verdict was reached March 1 following a two-day civil trial before U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup in San Francisco. A jury deliberated for 16 hours before awarding the mother and daughters this unprecedented amount from the Alameda County Sheriff's Office.
Specifically, the jury found Deputy Steven Holland liable for $2.7 million to mother Aasylei Loggervale and $2 million apiece to her daughters, Aaottae Loggervale, then 17, and Aasyeli Hardege-Loggervale, then 19.
The jury also found then-Deputy Monica Pope liable for $750,000 to both daughters, and that Alameda County is liable for the actions of its deputies.
It's possible the judge could lower the award if the county convinces him to do so. But nothing has been filed in court to indicate that so far.
Neither the Alameda County Sheriff's Office nor Kevin Gilbert, the attorney representing the county, responded for comment on Monday.
Both Holland and Pope have since been promoted.
The civil trial, also litigated by attorneys Joseph May and Brian Gearinger, alleged false arrest, invasion of privacy, negligence and violations of the 1st, 4th and 14th Amendments.
The Loggervales declined to be interviewed.
Their story has never been publicly told before, and some of their relatives don't even know what happened to them, or that they won a massive jury amount.
But they testified during the trial and jurors found sided with their account, stemming from an encounter on Sept. 20, 2019.